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  • Lindsey Borchard

Trade Secret: How to Style a Coffee Table

Truth be told, some of the most common questions sliding into our DMs relate to coffee table styling. Whether it’s someone looking for advice on how to group objects or layer like a pro, achieving that perfectly curated look can be admittedly tricky.

Luckily, we love sharing tips of the trade, which is why we’re dedicating this entire post to styling any coffee table with ease. We’re covering everything from round coffee tables to layering accents, our secrets to styling upholstered ottomans, plus the one item we include on EVERY coffee table we touch.

The best part? These styling tips are super applicable to many other areas of your home. Go ahead and bookmark this post for future reference, and you can thank us later.


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MAJOR INDUSTRY SECRET: The key to styling is layering. We layer everything, including beds, and it’s especially important with coffee tables. When we’re beginning the styling process, we always start with our biggest or heaviest pieces first—think trays, low profile baskets, and the like. Not only does this protect your tables, but it gives you a space to hold your smaller items.

Once we’ve got our trays or baskets in place, we always, always add books. They are called coffee table books, after all. Next up, we add in height, which can be done with larger decorative items or fresh flowers. Once you have your groupings (more on that in a second), we layer on the finishing touches like candles, coasters, and decorative beads.


As a general rule of thumb, we like to group items in odd numbers on every coffee table. Our items are grouped in sets of three as the minimum and five as the maximum. Grouping in odd numbers is a tried and true trick because it’s appealing to the eye and creates a stronger sense of visual balance. Keep in mind that this concept can be applied to styling moments virtually anywhere in your home.


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More and more, our clients opt for ottomans as coffee tables, which is when we utilize a tray. Now, this is where people make a lot of mistakes, so hear us out. If you’re using a tray on your ottoman, sizing is everything. We recommend using a tray that is at least a fourth to half the size of the ottoman, so it looks substantial and leaves room for layering books, candles, and other decorative items. Side note: if your ottoman has a wood tabletop, only style the tabletop and not the ottoman itself.


Now, let’s talk round coffee tables. Most people have trouble with round tables simply because they don’t know where to position their items. Do you group things in the center or spread things out? Well, I’m here to say, you actually can opt for either. If you want a more subtle, minimal look, add small grouping to the center of the table, leaving the outer edges clear and clutter-free.


When all is said and done, coffee table styling comes down to this: use what you love, work with the overall color palette of the room, and make sure that everything feels balanced.

Also, remember to have fun with your styling. You can style with items that are more functional, like candles or coasters, or more unique pieces, like decorative objects or special mementos. Plus, those objects displayed on your coffee table often become the best conversation starters.


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